Non-Ablative Laser| When I first offered to get a facial treatment at the University of Colorado Hospital Visage Center and write about it, I thought I was a pretty clever freelance writer. I was boasting to my friends: “I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.”
Off I headed to the Visage Center, in Lone Tree, where aesthetician Michelle Young recommended a treatment called the Lux1540 laser skin resurfacing, which is a “fractional non-ablative laser.” Because I was still nursing, she explained, the other exotic-sounding treatments she might have suggested I try, like the Obaji facial or any of the chemical exfoliating peels, were contraindicated.
Fractional laser treatments, Young explained, have been around for a while. “It’s micro beams of thermal energy that go deep, deep down into the dermis,” she told me. “And you have to get down into the dermis to actually build collagen.”
The technology has notably improved during the last five years, Young added. For example, a non-ablative treatment – meaning the laser doesn’t cut the skin – is now an option. That means the treatment requires virtually no downtime, during which you should avoid public events and work outside the home.
By contrast, the Visage Center also offers the Lux 2940, a more intense ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment, which can result in bleeding and downtime of up to seven days.
The Lux1540 non-ablative laser treatment, she felt, would be the most beneficial for my skin, which she repeatedly described as “beautiful” and well taken care of. (And I was thankful for that, since I definitely wasn’t interested in bleeding or a week of social isolation.)
So either my dedication to sunscreen has paid off, or she was trying to butter me up. Either way, I was happy to take that compliment from a professional such as herself.
My concerns for my skin were the typical 40-something issues of fine lines and wrinkles, sunspots and firmness. The laser treatment, Young explained, would produce new collagen, which can improve skin texture, elasticity and resiliency, and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What could be wrong with that? So far I was onboard.
She described the hour-long treatment that would involve three passes of the laser over my entire face. Clinical trials, she explained, found that three of these treatments spaced about four to six weeks apart would be the most beneficial.
But Young warned me the treatment would be a little uncomfortable. Also, the results would be subtle, as opposed to something more dramatic like Botox or plastic surgery, but would treat all those problem areas.
I will say that although the facility has more of a clinical feeling than most of the fancy-shmancy spas I usually frequent, the fact that Young could cite clinical studies regarding the treatments was very comforting and appealing. I often find the aestheticians at other spas to be, well, a little dingy. They seldom offer information about the (usually costly) procedures they’re performing other than what’s in the spa’s marketing materials.
Young began by applying numbing cream to my face to counteract the heat of the laser. After about 30 minutes, she rubbed it off and placed small protective goggles over my eyes. I lay comfortably on my back as she began slowly and lightly patting my forehead with the laser. I heard little snapping sounds as it came in contact with my skin.
After she covered the entire forehead area, she moved an ice roller over it. Then she moved on to my right cheek, left cheek, chin, nose and upper lip area – applying the ice roller to the specific area after each pass.
The first of the three passes was just a little bit uncomfortable. Then she ratcheted up the heat and the real stinging began. It felt like a small rubber band was being snapped on my skin – over and over again. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t fun or relaxing. By the third pass I was contemplating whether I’d actually return for the subsequent two treatments.
When she was done with the laser, though, I felt fine and didn’t need the ice bags she sent me home with. It was only during the treatment that I felt my fortitude was really being tested.
By the time I left the Visage Center I looked like I had a pretty bad windburn, but when I arrived home it had lightened up substantially. So the downtime is really negligible. You could easily go right back to work afterward.
I was sent home with a list of simple instructions that included resting and not wearing makeup or using any type of facial product for 72 hours.
Young warned me that the results would take time to become visible and, as promised, five days post-treatment I didn’t really see that much of a difference.
“New collagen production begins approximately six weeks after the first treatment and visible improvement is generally seen at about 12 weeks, “ she advised. “But the process continues over six months so you’re building collagen every single day.”
I’m viewing this experience, and the subsequent treatments (yes, I decided I wanted the full benefits), as an investment in my skin’s future. I’ll let you know if it pays dividends six months from now. resting and not wearing makeup or using any type of facial product